Tue. May 24th, 2022

The International Committee of the Red Cross says the intruders and their motive for the burglary are unknown.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says there has been a hacking attack on its data servers that has compromised confidential information on more than half a million vulnerable people.

The Geneva-based agency said on Wednesday that the crime by unknown intruders this week affected data on more than 515,000 people “including those separated from their families due to conflict, migration and disasters, missing persons and their families, and people in custody” .

The information has its origins in at least 60 Red Cross and Red Crescent chapters around the world.

“An attack on the data of people who are missing makes the anxiety and suffering for families even more difficult to endure,” Robert Mardini, the ICRC’s director general, said in a statement.

“We are all upset and confused that this humanitarian information would be targeted and compromised.”

External contractor

The ICRC said the breach targeted an external contractor in Switzerland storing data for the humanitarian organization, and there was no indication that the information had been publicly shared or leaked.

Agency spokeswoman Crystal Wells said although the ICRC could not say with certainty that the records had been stolen, “we feel it is likely. We know that they were within our system and had access to our data. “

Wells said the ICRC did not want to speculate on who might be behind the burglary.

Addressing the person or people behind the attack, Mardini called: “The right people, the right families behind the information you have now are some of the least powerful in the world. Please do the right thing. Do not share, sell, leak or otherwise use this data. ”

This indicates that the ICRC suspects that the culprits are criminals who want to take advantage of the data – for example for the purposes of identity theft.

The ICRC said the breach forced it to close systems around its Restoring Family Links program, which aims to reunite family members separated by conflict, disaster or migration.

Ewan Watson, an ICRC spokesman, said the organization had never experienced a burglary of a similar magnitude before.

Red Cross flagAn ICRC flag flies over the organization’s headquarters in Geneva [File: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP]

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